Heading into Tuesday’s primary, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra has the upper hand on his Republican opponents, leading his closest opponent by nearly 35 percent in a recent poll.
Hoekstra is ahead of opponent Clark Durant 51 percent to 17 percent, according to a July 26 poll by Public Policy Polling. A third Republican candidate, former Kent County judge Randy Hekman, trails with less than 5 percent.
Hoekstra said one of the factors in running for the Senate was his children’s prospects at building their careers in a free market, and was particularly concerned with legislation current Mich. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-East Lansing, and President Barack Obama have supported.
“I saw … the way to enjoy the American dream the same way I did was in jeopardy, (and) frankly, we can do a lot better,” Hoekstra said. “I didn’t need to get back into politics, but when I saw what was going on, I had to put my name back on a ballot to try to bring about the change.”
As the primary election nears, Hoekstra’s opponents have said he is too associated with Washington politics and not advancing the real American people.
Durant, a former lawyer and school executive from Grosse Pointe, Mich., said it’s time for both Republicans and Democrats to focus on extending economic opportunities across the country and stop spending irresponsibly, adding Hoekstra is not innocent when it comes to unnecessary federal spending.
“You couldn’t run a household that way, (and) you couldn’t run a business that way,” Durant said. “People who do that ought to be fired, and I don’t care what party they’re from.”
Both Hoekstra and Durant emphasized recreating job vibrancy, both in Michigan and nationally, which they said is especially important for young people graduating and searching for jobs.
All three candidates have chided Stabenow, an MSU alumna, for letting politics take precedent over progress and losing sight of fiscal accountability.
But at a debate in East Lansing hosted by WKAR’s Tim Skubick last week, Durant and Hekman treated Hoekstra like the incumbent, calling him a career politician and attacking his voting record, particularly for supporting the 2008 Wall Street bailout.
Hekman said in the debate that no decision can be made with perfect foresight, but the banks should have found a way to succeed on their own, without government support for any institution.
Hoekstra, who spent 17 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, defended his experience in both the private sector and a legislative body, and said it will help him if elected to the Senate.
Stabenow, who has no Democratic opponents, will face Tuesday’s winner in November. She currently has about a 15 percent lead over both Hoekstra and Durant.